Review: Flash: Rebirth #6 — “Fastest Man Alive”

Well, it’s finished. And oddly enough, that’s the strongest thing I can say about the conclusion of the Geoff Johns/Ethan Van Sciver miniseries. The main story wraps up rather abruptly, taking up about half of the issue (13 pages out of 22), with the rest devoted to character bits and foreshadowing. There’s certainly nothing wrong with character bits — they’re actually some of my favorite parts of this issue — but instead of a tour de force, Flash: Rebirth #6 wraps up with a resounding…well…it wraps up.

I don’t know if I’d feel differently about this if I’d read it before Blackest Night: The Flash, or before DC canceled their plans for the Kid Flash comic book and the backup stories featuring Wally West. I’m sure it didn’t help.

The best thing about the issue is that I can actually recognize Barry Allen as Barry Allen, not as some guy who has the same name and haircut. That’s one of the problems I had with the series up to this point: why go to the effort to bring back Barry Allen if you’re going to give him a personality transplant?

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Moments

The things I liked most about this issue were mostly small: Barry and Iris together again. Abra Kadabra still alive and planning revenge. Showing each speedster in costume, waving from the parade float…and a powerless Jai West ignoring them while he plays a video game. Green Arrow grabbing a slice of cake before Barry shows up with his characteristic, “Sorry I’m late.” An entire battle taking place so quickly that Thawne’s dropped baton doesn’t even seem to fall until after it’s over. Barry and Wally arriving in the past to stop Zoom at the exact moment that lightning strikes a younger Barry Allen.

Okay, that last one is a double-sized splash page.

It was interesting to see an explicit reference to Blackest Night: The Flash, which would have appeared two months later if this book had wrapped up in September as originally planned.

Something odd: the plan to deal with Eobard Thawne feels like it comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t, though. It’s exactly what the Justice League was going to do to Barry in issue #3 when he was being turned into the Black Flash. It’s not even adapted from what they were doing — they just finished the machine and shoved a different speedster into it.

So What Was Accomplished?

Flash: Rebirth was less about the story than it was about setting things up for the ongoing series. Barry Allen and Bart Allen had already come back during Final Crisis and Legion of Three Worlds, so what did this book do?

  • Max Mercury and Professor Zoom are back.
  • The West twins are younger again. Iris is promoted to a full speedster and takes on the name Impulse. Jai is depowered.
  • Jesse Quick is calling herself that again, and has a new costume inspired by her father’s.
  • The Speed Force is re-imagined not as an impersonal energy field from which speedsters draw power, but as an energy field that Barry Allen generates…from which other speedsters draw power. Meaning that ultimately every other speedster on the planet owes his or her power to Barry Allen, even the ones who predated him. “Barry Allen made me the Flash,” indeed.
  • There’s also a “Negative Speed Force” powered by Professor Zoom.
  • We’re clearly going to be seeing a Zoom Corps in the future. This might sound more exciting if the same author hadn’t introduced the Sinestro Corps a few years ago, then expanded it to an entire rainbow of fill-in-the-blank Lantern Corps.
  • Barry Allen rejoins the Central City Police Department with a simple cover story for his death and rebirth: he was in the Witness Protection Program. (I do have to wonder: with all the crazy stuff that happens in reality-bending Crises, how often do ordinary people get caught up in history alterations? I remember some tongue-in-cheek references in the website that went along with 52, but I doubt that’s really canon.)
  • Barry Allen’s past has been massively retconned to give him a tragic backstory, also providing a convenient excuse for anything that DC wants to revise about Flash history from the Silver Age onward. (As if half a dozen line-wide universe-altering events aren’t enough.)

Sadly, what it didn’t do was convince me that I want to read the ongoing series — which, frankly, should have been its main goal.

Next month: Flash: Secret Files. Then The Flash #1 launches in April. Maybe we’ll finally get a Flash story that’s actually about a story, rather than about supporting some editorial decision. It’s been too long.

See also:

44 thoughts on “Review: Flash: Rebirth #6 — “Fastest Man Alive”

  1. kukheart

    i enjoyed it, but half of this issue was foreshadowing… i have faith in geoff…hopefully it pays off…if not i may switch to trades

    Reply
  2. Logan

    I found the end very fitting. The story started slow, and then every issue sped up to the end, where the tension is resolved in one quick chase. Barry regained his confidence in his speed, and is back to being good for the sake of good, not to figure out the tragedy. Wally is still integral, as Zoom points out in his “prophesy.” But I do love the speed motif. I think the story was told well as a trajectory of speed, ending in a blitz of a fight, and then slowing down in happiness, not dread.

    Reply
  3. cm22

    I wouldn’t even could the Jesse parts, given that in the book she actually stars in she’s still going by Liberty Belle. Even in Blackest Night JSA she’s liberty belle and just does Jesse Quick for brief nostalgia purposes. (Which, frankly her Liberty Belle costume is cooler and the character development done with her by Geoff there was better than her use here, so I’d kind of rather her keep that persona. The crack is a lightning bolt, and she still used her speed. That should be enough, all this served to do was complicate her character more).
    Heck, since we wont have a kid flash book Max will essentially be in limbo again anyways, so he’s barely brought back.

    But over all I agree. I just kind of thought that this was a waste, and whoever originally told Geoff and co. to make it 5 issues was right. They could have cut a lot out of earlier issues to fit this issue into 5 and it would have been a much more fast paced and “about speed” comic than it was. And still not sold on Barry Allen so it looks like I’ll get out of buying the book guilt free.

    Reply
  4. papa zero

    I can’t really see Rebirth as a vehicle to introduce new readers to Barry Allen or as a means of picking up the character where he left off… It feels more like a homework assignment done the night before. Perhaps this isn’t a fair assessment of the series but given the ease with which Professor Zoom was dispatched (much less a supposed character lesson learned by an out of character Barry), it didn’t really underscore just how dangerous he really is.

    The story added a number of elements to a pre-existing mythology without any solid foundation for the new elements. So much of it felt forced. Looking back at the dialogue I still can’t make sense of why much of what happened in the story was necessary or why it took place to begin with. Why did Black Flash die exactly? Why did Savitar (among others) seem to know what was going on with Barry’s powers? What is the story behind the Negative Speed Force beyond it existing to facilitate an evil Reverse Flash army? Why were they trapped in the Negative Speed Force – then not trapped? I assumed there would be a reshuffling of the deck here and there – but I think a series should justify it’s existence with its story. The story waited long enough for us to obtain knowledge to be used *at a later date* before dispensing with Reverse Flash.

    While the series wasn’t all I had hoped it would be, I am still thrilled that DC and all of the contributing members of the Flash: Rebirth team felt compelled to put Flash (Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart, or otherwise) front and center!

    Reply
  5. Angel

    Well I was honestly a bit disappointed but I think its because I expected much from it. I wanted to see more Max, Wally and Bart. I think Jai ignoring them was pretty cool, Bart, Max and the rest all waving from the float. All in all i’m glad to see it over but I don’t think thats how a stories supposed to leave you feeling…

    If Flash #1 doesn’t do something amazing, i’m pretty much done with this book.

    Reply
  6. West

    Not all the speedsters owe their existence to Barry’s speed force (a concept I wholeheartedly and quite immediately rejected, before editing it out of my personal comic book history). Jay’s got some meta in him. He’s probably not the only one.

    Rebirth #6 was about as good as the series as a whole – which is to say, “not so much.” It took so long to come out that I forgot what their Zoom-cage even was. The changes to the mythos were weak in every way I can think of.

    Iris’ de-aging still confuses me.

    I have a hard time swallowing the fact that this entire adventure apparently took place in the time the other heroes were waiting on Barry to show up at his party (maybe because the mini-series took so long to complete?).

    I could go on. At least Wally’s new look is growing on me. It’d be kinda neat if they had the guts to create a character whose uniform was more reminiscent of Jay’s (like during Chain Lightning or whatever it was called).

    I’m still a Flash/superspeed fan, but, as in so many other four-color examples, I’ll be looking to the past much more than the future. This series just confirmed that, even more.

    By the way, I think someone needs to give Johns a break. He’s got too much on his plate, in my unqualified opinion, because a number of his projects, over the past two or three years, have been a big ol’ mess. We forget that more easily if something good came out of them, like Bart’s return, but that Legion of Three Worlds thing was a very pretty mess.
    .-= West’s latest blog post: MIA =-.

    Reply
  7. Perplexio

    I’m just wondering if Geoff has any plans for Fiona Webb. That character was kind of left in limbo during/after the whole Barry Allen trial storyline that largely closed out Barry’s original run as The Flash.

    Or maybe Geoff will just figure out a way to retcon her out of existence.

    Reply
  8. Fiery Vulpine

    I don’t know what to say other than the mini-series wasn’t what I hoped for, but then again I think some of us had unrealistic expectations. That aside, I’m probably going to pick up the new ongoing for a test (hardy-har-har) run but I’m not going in with high expectations.

    Reply
  9. topicality

    Personally I thought this was the best issue of the series. My main complaints with the series were the time delays and the forcing of several aspects in issue 5 (costumes and so forth). But then again, I am just recently picking back up comic books and so came into this one at issue 3 and hadn’t read GL: Rebirth.

    Was the series great? No. Was it as horrible as everyone says it is? No. But then again I might be a little biased. I don’t mind if Jesse Quick, Jay, Max and Bart aren’t in the issue as much because the series isn’t about them. It’s about the Flash. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to learn more about the person who was so central to Wally’s life. And am happy to know that Wally is still going to play a major part.

    And the foreshadowing just made me want to see the series even more. It looks like there is a lot of great stuff they could do.

    Reply
  10. Jose Molestina

    I completely agree with this review. Remember when DC announced that Flash Rebirth was going to be 5 comics, and then extended for 6. Well, Now I know why. It could have been wrapped up in 5. It is a nice story but not a great one. At least not for Barry’s comeback. I guess I could blame DC for bringing him back in Final Crisis and then throw the ball to Geoff to do a rebirth. He was already back!
    I think “The return of Barry Allen” was far more superior storywise, but why compare huh
    Finally, I hope DC understands how important is to deliver their comics in due time. We waited 3 months, perhaps more for this issue and it wasn’t nothing out of the ordinary. Now I am pissed that I spent $120 because I bought all the incentive covers!

    Reply
  11. Yrani Gami

    First off, it seems most of us agree on one thing; this story SUCKED ASS. The previous reviewer said that the “Return of Barry Allen” arc was better and I agree. It was also far less convoluted. It’s all so confusing! I think that it’s okay to write a story FOR fans, chock full of “easter eggs”, inside jokes, ect. But for Chrissakes, some things in this stoy just dont make any sense! (By the way, YES, IAM PISSED OFF!) So far no one else has said this, but why kill Barry’s mother and jail his father if Barry will not have a personality change like Batman, or Superman? Barry was as much a big boy scout as Supes, maybe even more so!

    THE ONE THING I LOVED ABOUT BARRY WAS THAT HE WAS ALWAYS TRUE TO HIS MORAL COMPASS AND DIDNT NEED TRAGEDY AS A CHILD TO SPUR HIM INTO ACTION AGAINST INJUSTICE!

    So if he grew up to be the same person, to be a scientist, to be a fan of the original Flash and thus pursue a career in law enforcement and meet and marry Iris, WHY THE f*** take away his parents? For 5 minutes of dramatic fodder Johns made a life-altering (yet inconsequential!) change to cannon! Why not have him save his parents by traveling back in time? I PROPOSE THAT TIME TRAVEL FOR SPEEDSTERS- NO, FOR THE GODDAMM -DC UNIVERSE!- BE FORBIDDEN! No good can come out of idiot editors messing with 50+ great years of storytelling because of f’in writer’s block!

    Also, while we’re on the subject, I WANT MY MONEY BACKfor the silver-age comics I collected! (no, that wouldn’t be economicaly sound.. never mind.) The “life story of Barry Allen” hardcover I bought is now TRASH! And for all you hardcore Wally fans (I am one too!) wait until you see what retro-active changes they have in store for him! Hope you like your favorite characters well done.. and then f-‘d over!

    Reply
    1. Fiery Vulpine

      Dude, just chill. It’s not the end of the world, and I’m pretty sure there are some fans that would be interested in buying your Silver Age comics if you’re that adamant about selling them.

      Reply
    2. West

      It’s a fair point you make. If those events don’t change his character, what’s the point of them? They feel more like needless tragedy and the weighty negativity and violence the DCU seems to have embraced in recent years.
      .-= West’s latest blog post: MIA =-.

      Reply
      1. Devin "The Flash" Johnson

        Definitely agreed on this one. When people used to ask me about why the Flash appealed to me so much, one of my reasons was that he just decided to fight crime because it was the right thing to do. He doesn’t need to have tragedy to be a heroic.
        .-= Devin “The Flash” Johnson’s latest blog post: Third Post! =-.

        Reply
          1. Nightwing89

            The latest the “our characters from our youth rule, now suck it!” campaign. Wake me up when somebody at Time Warner forces Diane Nelson to fire Didio.

            Reply
          2. I.Strange

            Ah, I see what you’re getting at, and I need to correct myself. No, Barry doesn’t need to have tragedy to be heroic, nor to be a better hero, nor is the tragedy necessary in order to show that it’s unnecessary (my second, addendum response is just plain wrong).

            However. Devin’s objection, as I read it, is that this new history roots Barry’s heroism in tragedy, and my response is “No it doesn’t.” The previous “just because” origin still counts, and still speaks to Barry’s innate heroism. What’s changed is that this innate heroism has been tested. The result? With or without tragic background, Barry becomes a hero’s hero. It is despite tragedy, then, that The Flash is a superhero.

            But just to be clear, the primary significance of the revision is character theme. I made a partial quote from the BN:F conclusion before, but let’s state it in full:

            “No matter what life throws at you, or what way the road turns, you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward with an open heart.”

            Reply
          3. Devin "The Flash" Johnson

            O.K. that I can get on board with. That does work well within the Flash mythos. I still liked wish fulfillment as a more central theme but I guess it could use a bit more depth. Still wish they would just leave this kind of stuff alone though but if it had to be changed this isn’t half bad.
            .-= Devin “The Flash” Johnson’s latest blog post: Third Post! =-.

            Reply
          4. papa zero

            To say nothing of the challenge that each issue presents for a hero – Barry Allen was probably the very first DC character tested in this fashion. The murder of Iris marked a change in attitude of the writing that focused more on presentation in serial format. There was no better place in DC comics to follow soap opera tragedy after that incident. Among other things, he lost his wife, killed someone, got arrested, got kicked out of the JLA, went through a very public trial… and the series still saw fit to end on an optimistic high note. Rebirth doesn’t represent any kind of turning point in regard to test of his character in my humble opinion.

            Reply
      2. I.Strange

        It gives the character, and by extension the Flash family, a defining theme: “moving forward with an open heart”–optimism vs. tragedy. Wholly appropriate for The Flash.

        Reply
        1. Devin "The Flash" Johnson

          I just feel like it’s something Johns forced into the mythos to give him basis for when he makes the same crap happen to Barry in The Flash movie.

          Remember when they said they were making all the new DC Entertainment movies in the vein of Dark Knight? Darker and edgier.

          Sort of like how on The Flash TV show they had a villain named Pike kill Barry’s brother Jay which prompted Barry to become the Flash after the accident. This wouldn’t be the only time Batman has messed with The Flash’s core elements.

          Wish Fulfillment was a major theme of Mark Waid’s run on The Flash. And this really became the core of the stories for a long time. Actually even dating back to Robert Loren Fleming’s Mystery of The Human Thunderbolt from Secret Origins Annual #2. I don’t see a problem with this as a theme at all.
          .-= Devin “The Flash” Johnson’s latest blog post: Third Post! =-.

          Reply
  12. Angel

    Well the review really says it all doesnt it? What we’re all thinking/feeling. Issue five could’ve done it,but instead we had o wait another 3 months or so for a book that was entirely conclusion. No fighting in it at all really just running, tackling Zoom and knocking out his power. The rest didn’t even really stand out to me.

    I’m beginning to think the only reason I was so excited about this is because I was expecting the kid flash book and Wally back-up. It feels like we’re sorta left with nothing.

    Reply
  13. EJ

    It’s almost as if I read an entirely different issue and series as other people on here because I loved this issue and Flash Rebirth in general. I really hope people aren’t letting their own biases affect their thoughts on the story which was much needed so that The Flash mythos and on going could start fresh. Between this, Blackest Night and BN Flash i’ve been on cloud nine as a Barry Allen Flash fan finally The Flash is back in the forefront of the DCU can’t wait to see what Geoff has in story for the on going because now i’m even more excited to check it out.

    Reply
    1. West

      Well, if you dig it, you dig it, but let me point out that a big part of this series seems to require an appreciation for the past – the Flash’s past, specifically.

      To expect us to carry those so many memories, but to bring no baggage in which to place them is to ask too much.
      .-= West’s latest blog post: MIA =-.

      Reply
  14. Pingback: Review: Flash Rebirth #6 | Titanstower.com Monitor Room

  15. Rob

    I was horribly disappointed with this issue.
    As much as I love the parties involved, this book was not worth the wait I had to endure to read it.

    I’m picking up the Secret Files book, and make my final judgement then.

    I enjoyed the 3 Blackest Night issues more than Rebirth, which is crazy.

    Reply
  16. Perplexio

    We’re clearly going to be seeing a Zoom Corps in the future. This might sound more exciting if the same author hadn’t introduced the Sinestro Corps a few years ago, then expanded it to an entire rainbow of fill-in-the-blank Lantern Corps.

    And here is where I see Geoff setting up Owen Mercer’s return. With Prof. Zoom being able to change events in the past I can see him going back to before Owen started “feeding” innocent bystanders to his father and stopping him by offering him the answers and direction he’s looking for before he crosses that “irredeemable” line. Owen does have Thawne blood running through his veins after all. And something tells me Eobard knows this… It would be a little hokey cheesy, but I can also see Owen getting a new costume in the Zoom color scheme and taking on a new name… “Zoomerang”

    Reply
    1. Kelson Post author

      “Zoomerang?!” Ouch!

      P.S. I fixed the code. It needs to be <blockquote>, not just <quote>. I’ll have to look for a plugin that’ll make formatting comments easier.

      Reply
      1. Perplexio

        I did warn you it was going to be hokey and cheesy… but I was trying to think like Dan Didio might. I suffered a severe migraine immediately following that exercise.

        Reply
    1. Perplexio

      I posed this question elsewhere on here and I know Thawne was written and introduced first… BUT Zolomon became Zoom in the 21st Century Thawne didn’t become Zoom until the 25th Century… Isn’t there a chance that the two kind of inspired one another. Zolomon was inpired by Thawne’s exploits in the past and Thawne might have been inspired by Zolomon’s…

      Shouldn’t Zolomon be Zoom I and Thawne be Zoom II given the time periods they’re actually from? I’m looking forward to a “Zoom Corps” with a resurrected Owen Mercer and Inertia/Kid Zoom.

      Reply
  17. Esteban Pedreros

    I can’t say I disliked this miniseries, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it, not because it was bad, but because it felt as if nothing much happened, maybe it would have been better if it had only 5 issues.

    I really don’t care about Professor Zoom, and I can’t see why anybody would devote so much time to make him an interesting villain (and fail to do so), it seems that Johns couldn’t help himself using Zoom over and over again from issue 200 onwards, the same way he couldn’t help transforming Wally into Barry and giving Barry spotlight time on the book.

    I’m not looking forward to the new title, I don’t like the penciller and I don’t care for the direction Johns is giving to the book.

    Sorry
    .-= Esteban Pedreros’s latest blog post: Sólo Batman supera a Superman =-.

    Reply
  18. tank

    compared with GL Rebirth, very slow and ultimately very disappointing. all this rigmarole to bring back Barry and not really one hint that they’ve got anything new or interesting to do with him, which has also been the case with Wally for some time. who knows, maybe I’m wrong, I’d like to be wrong in this case. Flash was THE book for me back around Waid’s Return of Barry Allen story until he left the book. I love Johns on GL, however I did not like what he did with Flash back then. Don’t know what he’s going to try now.

    Reply
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